Monday, February 27, 2006

why wood is good

As much as I complained about TV commentators for this XX Winter Olympics, I did hear one very funny thing while watching the coverage:

“….and Joe-Blow-Athlete of Such-And-Such-Country will finish this race in fourth place, taking home…the Wooden Medal.”


Well, I brought home The Wood, too…with my Olympic Knitting.
(although I should be given a frickin GOLD for the lesson I have finally learned)

I hate it so much, that it can actually keep me from being able to pick up the needles at all.

No, I did not finish the Olympic Mohair Shawl before the flame went out. And I had plenty of time to get it done, too. I passed up many an opportunity where I could have sat and knit. And I chose not to.

It would seem that during the two years prior to these Olympics, I’ve developed some interesting habits while training for these games.

First year of training:

* A company that sells kits for felted hats and bags hires me to knit a display bag (I knit, they felt). I am given no firm deadline. The yarn and patterns are delivered to me, and instead of the agreed upon bag, I am sent the components for two fair-isle hats. I’ve never done stranded knitting. And for those who aren’t knitters, felted items are knit HUGE, because felting is basically shrinking your knitting during the washing to make it thick and warm. So these aren’t your normal sized hats. They are giant. Hats like this. Along with the yarn is a note that I need to return the completed hats within 3 days. I am leaving for vacation in two. I almost hurt myself trying to get them done on time. Lots of teeth grinding. I am paid something like $12.50 per hat for my work (slave labor?). I swear that never ever again will I knit on a deadline.

* It is my friend’s 90th birthday. For some insane reason, the day before we are to meet and celebrate, I decide to knit her a small, shaped shawl. I stay up all night getting it done. I can barely see straight, weaving in ends right up to the last minute. She calls to cancel our date, and the finished gift sits in a bag in my car for three weeks until we can reschedule. I swear that never ever again will I knit on a deadline.

My second year of training:

* I negotiate a small job from my local yarn store. I am to knit sample swatches that they will use as displays. In exchange, I’m to be given hours toward classes. I also have the added bonus of sampling new yarns. I picked up a bag of skeins they have waiting for me, and I’m not given a deadline…but it’s assumed that I will do this kntting in a reasonable amount of time…like ummmm, before they sell the inventory and there is nothing left to display. I take the bag home and knit not one single thing from that bag. In fact, the bag never leaves my car and makes it into the house. Feeling guilty about shirking knitting responsibilities, I also do not pick up my own knitting. This goes on for about 6 weeks until I finally return the bag of perfectly undisturbed skeins and apologize profusely, saying you’d think I’d have learned by now: I hate knitting on a deadline. I swear that never ever again will I knit on a deadline.

* My mom asks for sock for Mother’s Day, two months early. Mother’s Day is in May. I only finish one sock. I promise to get the pair done by her birthday. Which is in June. I hate the colors of yarn she chose (what an eyesore), and therefore avoid picking up her project whenever possible. Every time she sees me knitting on something else (which was often), she makes some offhand comment about her cold feet. She finally gets her socks. In December. And I swear to myself that never ever gain will I knit on a deadline.

2006, now my third year of training:
* I finally understand that while I do love a knitting challenge, I am not in love with the time challenge. My version of challenging myself is to learn at least one new technique or skill with every new project (and I have successfully and progressively done that over all three training seasons).
* Yet still, in 2006, I set myself with the New Years Schmezolucion to knit one pair of socks per month (it’s February and I’ve already blown that one off).
* And then, sign up for the Knitting Olympics.


Now, for the Olympics, I do pick a project that includes the challenge of a new skill. This is going to be my first lace, and I am (stupidly) going to knit it up in (not-so-lace-friendly) mohair, which is a fiber I’ve never worked with before.

Here is why I should be given Gold instead of Wood:

By Day 4 of the Knitting Olympics, I realized that I’ve set myself up for failure, and instead of continuing to knit myself into insanity, I begin to very frequently, and very happily, put my knitting back in its bag. And smiling about it.

As a result, I ended up having time to do some wonderful things.
Like sleeping. Like eating. Like taking MyFK to an afternoon at the bookstore. Like taking him and a friend on a tour of the JellyBelly Factory. Like birthing a new dance solo that I will perform next week as a work in progress. Like trying to use my prosthesis a bit more (no, I haven’t figured out how to knit and walk yet--I couldnt do that when I had two legs). Like keeping up with housework (welllllll, sorta). Like spending time catching up with friends. Like going to see TheMIG's band play when their tour rolls through town. Like going to see Axis Dance Company's new work. Like taking some much needed downtime to do some deep thinking about some major overhauling I’m ready to do in the area of my emotional growth.

I am at complete peace with my Wooden Medal. I scored The Wood for knitting how I like to knit. I knit my first lace. And I tamed mohair and made it obey. And now that the REAL deadline has passed, I think I can finally pick up the needles again and finish this shawl. On my own terms. And I will be warm and cozy with it when it is done. And stress free. And happy with myself for finally shaking a bad habit. And I’ll be sporting The Wood (something I've always wished I could do).

There is nothing worse I can do to myself than taking something I absolutely love (because it relaxes me, allows me to express my creativity, and brings me peace)….and then turning it into something that I dread doing.

I think I have finally learned not to knit on a deadline (PLEASE, if you see me doing it and writing about it here…slap me around a little bit…you have been granted official permission).

I suspect maybe I'm in good company donning The Wood. As of this entry, Miss Harlot (who started this whole Olympic thing in the first place) has not posted that she completed her item either. But she's amazing with a deadline. More than likely,...she DID finish it, and is just sleeping it off ;-)

**update: Hail the Mighty Harlot...she DID in fact finish, and just in the nick of time. She totally deserves The Gold. Totally gorgeous sweater.


msubulldog said...

I found your site through your comments at the Yarn Harlot's and I am totally with you on that deadline knitting stuff! I have no idea why having a deadline makes me instantly not interested in working on a project, but it does. Glad to know I'm not the only one. :) I'm definitely of the "new technique challenge" group rather than the "speed challenge" set, too.
Congratulations for knitting your way--no matter what medal you wind up with. :)

Janey said...

It wasn't the deadline that got to me so much - although I've put in too many years as a university student not to be a master procrastinator - but it was the new challenge.

I'd never knit lace before. I chose the Branching Out scarf from for my indoctrination. And discovered ... that I do NOT like knitting when I cannot listen to the radio as background noise, or ocasionally glance at the television, or take even a half-hearted part in a conversation.

Like you, I should have known better.
I already know I do not like knitting mittens - because it seems one has to "chop and change" every row. So why would I anticipate that having to "chop and change" every few STITCHES would be enjoyable?
But I shall perservere.

In fact, I am going to join "other Olympians who didn't quite finish, but are still running toward the finish line nonetheless", at the Turtle Along,

Hope to see you there,
Janey (from Nova Scotia)

Gray said...

I enjoyed the wooden medal quote. But for knitting shouldn't you get the "woolen" medal? Unfortunately, in the spirit of the art, I suppose that you would have to make it yourself.